Wednesday, March 22, 2006

For the love of Women

I’d like to share with you the most ridiculous proposal coming from an established political party that I’ve heard for a long time. I don’t know whether to burst into laughter or into tears. Let’s say that it serves as an indication of a world driven by materialism to its extremes.

In Holland we have a social democrat party. Although I am not in any way a socialist, I have always considered this party a serious, responsible and relevant segment of our political spectrum.

At present the party is serving its time in the opposition quarters of our parliament. Of course this is not an enviable position, but all in all it allows a party to seriously rethink its strategies without the burden of government responsibility, and sure, this sometimes induces the members of the party to take up extreme positions. To test the public waters so to speak.

I first thought some party member spoke out too loudly on television, loosely lipped, stupid, forgettable. But this wasn’t the case.

Here is the serious proposal.

Quote: women who enjoyed full education, e.g. including university education, should repay the cost of their education if they choose not to work (for instance: when they decide to have children and attend to them). Unquote.

Argument: when women throw away their education, this constitutes capital destruction, and therefore this should be corrected.

Horror. It was a relief to see that objections came instantly from almost all other sides of the political spectrum.

So really, all this talk about woman emancipation was nonsense all along. Women should be educated, so they can work and contribute to the cycle of supply and demand that so fascinates our western world as the measure of all development.

The greatest horror in my view, is that this proposal did not come from a male specimen of the social democrat party, but from a female specimen. What other indication of female self degradation does one need in order to understand the fundamental disturbance that has come to underpin almost everything in our present world?

And even if this particular proposal, obviously, will not stand the slightest chance, it still merits serious thought why it surfaced at all, and whether in fact it may reflect rather wider held rigid views about the role of men and women in society and in the economy. Well, that’s a stupid question. We all know that the answer is yes. It is evident that the main thrust of the socio-political evolution in the past decades has been to join the bandwagon of salaried jobs, that ‘employment’ in monetary terms has become synonymous to ‘welfare’, and that men and women should enjoy this ‘welfare’ in equal terms.

Let me put this straight: I am a strong proponent of equality. I am moreover fully convinced of the benefits of women participating in our society at all levels, in all trades etc. It would be a great benefit to our planet if the feminine side of humanity had greater bearing on the course of history than in fact it has. But to reduce this potential benefit to (the obligation to) ‘work’ is a serious deminishment of the actual potential of women and of the status they should be able to enjoy in our societies.

I have known many women who didn’t ‘work’ in their lifetime, but whose contribution (greatly influenced by their education) to the lives of others, not merely their families, has been far greater than any paid job would have allowed them to make.

But even sticking to the family: what kind of capital destruction does our social-democrat have in mind if a woman (probably together with her husband) decides to spend her education on educating her children? Good God, what a grim view of life, if this doesn’t count for anything.

Anyway, the proposal won’t stick. But even if I don’t have to burst into tears, it is still impossible for me to laugh. For the love of women, for the love of all our children and grandchildren, let us allow the best education for all, and the fullest freedom for everybody on how we re-invest this in our future world.


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